The U.S. Postal Service doesn’t know how to make friends in the Santa Fe area.

For years, there were service problems so severe — lost mail, late packages and other mix-ups — that U.S. senators and representatives had to step in and demand a change in business as usual. More recently, there has been the unilateral decision by the Postal Service to move the downtown post office; where, we still don’t know. Heaven forbid that postal officials actually meet face to face with city customers to discuss the potential move and its implications.

Finally, there is a decision in Pojoaque that potentially would eliminate service to efficient cluster boxes. Turns out, many box customers also can receive mail at their home addresses along rural routes. In this last controversy, at least, postal officials actually met with upset customers. They are delaying a Sept. 30 cut-off of service to approximately 450 customers who use cluster boxes. Further investigation is necessary.

We have already said, in regards to the downtown post office, that it should stay put without excellent reasons to move it (reasons, we should add, the post office has not presented). Let’s look at Pojoaque, where there is a somewhat complicated situation. Residents seem to prefer cluster box delivery instead of convenient front-door service. Evidently, vandals with nothing better to do like to bash mail boxes and steal mail. For many residents, it’s safer and more convenient to pick up mail while doing shopping; thus, the draw of the cluster box. Pojoaque Pueblo doesn’t charge for use of its space for the boxes, so except for postal employee time, delivery of mail to the current boxes is fairly cheap.

It is true, as the post office maintains, that the post office must only provide free delivery in one place for each residence or business. It’s the duplication that is the issue. In her notice to boxholders, Suzy Yarbro, U.S. postmaster for Santa Fe, said, “receiving mail at the no fee P.O. Box at 11 W. Gutierrez is no longer an option if you are on a letter carrier’s line of travel.” That makes sense. Someone who is receiving mail along a rural route in Pojoaque shouldn’t also get mail — for free — at the cluster boxes. However, since the Postal Service is on a cost-cutting binge, it makes sense to keep the cluster box mail service and cut off home delivery — that would save the most time and money. As postal officials gather their facts — after a decision but better late than never — it is important to see whether residents actually are receiving mail in two places. Or the problem could be that some residents want home delivery while others want the cluster boxes, yet they live on the same rural route.

As postal officials investigate, they should consider what most residents want. It might be that Pojoaque is the place where cluster boxes beat home delivery in the opinions of enough residents. In that case, the Postal Service should pocket the savings and run. Eliminate routes and keep the boxes.

Whatever the decision, it’s essential to include customers in the conversation. In the future, it would be encouraging if the Postal Service asked before sending out the notice of decision. Just like in Santa Fe, where citizens still don’t know what is next for the downtown post office.

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